Latin Grammys 2017: Luis Fonsi, Residente Win Big - Rolling Stone
Home Music Music Lists

Latin Grammys 2017: 10 Best, Worst and Most WTF Moments

Rising stars and old favorites come together in the 18th annual Latin Grammy Awards

Latin Grammys 2017: 10 Best, Worst and Most WTF Moments


With the astronomical success of “Despacito” and reggaeton’s ferocious, pop-friendlier comeback, Latin music is no longer a niche market, but a global force to be reckoned with. Singer-songwriter Natalia Lafourcade proved that vintage Mexican folk thrives through the filtered lens of pop; and Puerto Rican MC Residente showed that unflinching ideology still wins awards. Salsa mastermind Rubén Blades confirmed that traditional genres will continue to celebrated across generations; and in an unprecedented move, Latinxs wholeheartedly welcomed a handful of non-Latinxs stars into the mix. “It’s amazing to be accepted by the Latin culture,” said Steve Aoki during a red carpet interview. “The translation doesn’t matter. You can feel the rhythm universally.” Behold the best, worst and most WTF moments of this year’s ceremony.

Gustavo Caballero/Getty

Best: J Balvin brings global starpower to the stage

It was predicted that “Despacito”
would snag most, if not all four awards. Yet in spite of its monolithic popularity – even a Beyoncé feature – J Balvin’s viral jam “Mi Gente” did not make the cut for a
single award. Still, Balvin strived to make a lasting impression – rocking freshly dyed neon blond hair and fuchsia hip-hop windbreakers,
the Colombian megastar channeled a Latin raver Eminem. Appearing alongside
Bad Bunny for hit single “Si Tu Novio Te Deja Sola,” the glowing trap
tune slyly transitioned into a heavily stylized, more hyped-up “Mi Gente,”
in the good hands of Steve Aoki. Bronx rapper French Montana also
joined the party, presenting their rap ditty duet, “Unforgettable.” The dizzying performance was indeed so hard to forget, it should have come with an epilepsy warning.

Kevin Winter/Getty

WTF: Maluma Gets Censored

Self-proclaimed “Pretty Boy, Dirty Boy” Maluma brought steam and slickness to the stage. But while performing the tantalizing tropical pop of “Felices Los 4,” he pulled off a Jim-Morrison-on-the-Ed-Sullivan-Show move, and got censored by Univisión. The effects may have differed in the late Sixties – though no artist back then wanted to risk being banned from a widely popular TV show, but Morrison only amplified his bad boy persona. Although the Colombian reggaetonero kept his original steamy lyrics about foursomes intact, the annoying beeping censors killed his naughty vibe and our listening experience.

Lester Cohen/Getty

Best: Introducing CNCO, the K-pop idols of Latin music

With their dashing looks, impeccable dance moves and earworm-ready hits, Latin American upstarts CNCO are like the K-pop of Latin urban – and their show during the telecast was well worth screaming about. The thing is, CNCO was the only band of their kind at the ceremony: a commercially-manufactured boy band who first garnered fame in 2015 for winning the competitive TV show La Banda. Their prize included a worldwide tour with Ricky Martin and a five-year recording contract with Sony Music Latin. Whether or not they actually possess the compositional genius, their highly-charged performance of smash hit “Reggaetón Lento” was pure flames. 

Kevin Winter/Getty

Best: Alejandro Sanz dedicates his Person of the Year Award to Dreamers

As opposed to the shocking disregard for politics at the 2016 Latin Grammys, this year’s ceremony compensated tenfold. Spanish crooner Alejandro Sanz, who’s been churning out timeless pop hits since the Nineties, dedicated his prestigious Person of the Year award to Dreamers and DACA recipients. Although he’s not quite known for the same political candor as, say, Residente, Sanz delivered an impassioned speech that shed a light on disenfranchised populations of America. During the slow-burning “Cuando Nadie Me Ve,” he interjected to say, “There are those who spend a lifetime building walls, and those others spend breaking them. And for each thrown rock there’s a dreamer.” Cue the surprise troupe of actual Dreamers, who would join him onstage for a massive, tearjerking singalong.

Arrow Created with Sketch. Calendar Created with Sketch. Path Created with Sketch. Shape Created with Sketch. Plus Created with Sketch. minus Created with Sketch.